Print Your Photos (Probably a better title out there)

You shot your rolls of film, developed them or had them developed. You looked at the prints (or jewel-like slides)– the only way to look at your photos unless they were published — and decided which ones you liked. When you were learning photography you looked at the negatives and picked one. You held those little frames to the light or looked at them through a loupe over a light table. You made contact sheets and looked at those through a magnifying glass, at tiny windows into the worlds of your own past. They were full of mystery, tiny little scenes that you had chosen, burned into silver halide, glowing frames of silvery greys and blacks, the direct opposite of what you had seen. It was up to you to think about them, think about what you wanted. Then you had to turn the lights off, turn on the red light, fit that chosen frame into a holder, fit it into a larger frame, make decisions and then commit to it. You held your breath and pushed the button and the light came on, changing the photo paper invisibly, immediately, and forever. You took that piece of paper and slipped it beneath the developer. Again you held your breath, waiting, wondering. Would it come in a rush of overexposed blacks or a tentative, underexposed outline of whites and greys? Or had you calculated correctly when you committed light to the paper as you had when you opened the camera’s shutter to expose the film.  Continue reading “Print Your Photos (Probably a better title out there)”

The Ona Bowery Leica Bag

Bag shown with optional Leica M, Photo A. Tonn

I received the good news that Leica was fixing my Monochrome’s shutter, replacing the sensor glass, and giving the thing a general tune up.  The additional good news was that it would all be free.  The bad news was they estimated the repairs would take 18 to 20 weeks (and this 8 weeks after sending it in).  Regardless, this gave me the green light to buy a bag for my Monochrome.  I believe that every camera/camera system needs its own shoulder bag home suited to the way I use that camera.  Every camera has an infrastructure that needs to be contained and organized along with items of more general utility that live in camera bags.  If you use more than one type of camera and constantly swap cameras in and out of bags, then very soon you’ll find yourself trying to put a Nikon battery into a Leica or attach an M lens to an F mount or find yourself without a flashlight or pen at some critical moment.  Continue reading “The Ona Bowery Leica Bag”

The 50mm f/2 Zeiss Planar ZM

Highway heading into a storm on the Navajo Reservation, Northern Arizona, Leica M-P 240, Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar ZM – Photo © Andrew Tonn 

When I bought a digital Leica I wanted a new lens to go with it.  There was no question that this lens would be 50mm.  I use other focal lengths (and have nothing against buying used optics) but, in this case, I wanted a new lens for the new camera.  When I bought a Leica M6ttl in 2001, I briefly used an antique 50mm f/2 Summar, but was soon able to acquire well-used 50mm f/2 Summicron from the 1970s.  I bought the Summar for $150 from an acquaintance and the second hand Summicron for $500 at the now sadly deceased F-Stop Camera in Akron, Ohio.  That lens has served me well but, when I decided to buy the digital M-P 240, the Summicron was in for repairs.  Anyway, I wanted a new lens for my new Leica and the M6 would be lonely and jealous if I confiscated its friend Summicron.  I like to maintain harmony in my stable of cameras after all. Continue reading “The 50mm f/2 Zeiss Planar ZM”

The Leica SL: The Best Worst Mirrorless Camera Ever?

In the mirrorless camera world smaller, lighter and packed with buttons is the trend. But with their pro end mirrorless camera, the SL, Leica decided to provide fewer buttons and go bigger and heavier than any other mirrorless camera in the 35mm format on the market. Milled from a solid block of aluminum, featuring as few buttons as possible with no labeling on any of them and an awkward power switch, the Leica SL seems to kick to the curb any feature commonplace or desired in a mirrorless system, with one exception. The EVF. DSLR users flock to Sony or Fuji for a smaller lighter system that is packed with features but doesn’t force them to make huge compromises in quality. Some users regret the move and some users are quite happy, but one thing they all agree on is lighter is better and they love the EVF. I even made the jump from DSLR to mirrorless to cut the weight. So why do I now find myself using the absolute heaviest mirrorless 35mm format option out there? Because of the EVF. More on that in a moment, lets first take a broader look at the Leica SL.

Continue reading “The Leica SL: The Best Worst Mirrorless Camera Ever?”

5 Days In Kathmandu

Leica M Monochrome, 15mm f/4.5 Voigtlander Super Heliar, Temple steps, Durbar Square (Photo by Andrew Tonn ©

There were times when our two years in Mumbai seemed an eternity.  I knew the time would pass quickly, however, that every day, strange as it was, would crossfade into the next and that sooner, rather than later, we would be headed back to the airport, boarding a flight out, and that everything undone would most likely stay undone.

Continue reading “5 Days In Kathmandu”

Leica Unveils the New TL2… And It’s Not What Anyone Asked For.

(Photo from Leica)

Leica has unveiled their rumored update to the TL, the TL2. The heavens opened, light shined down through the clouds from those very same heavens upon this wondrous marvel from Germany. Well… Not really. Actually, it’s quite underwhelming. Although the TL2 features upgraded specs such as USB 3.0, 20 frames per sec, 4k video, the new 24 MP APS-C sensor and the Maestro II processor, the TL2 is still lacking the single most desired and requested feature in the TL… A built-in EVF.

Continue reading “Leica Unveils the New TL2… And It’s Not What Anyone Asked For.”

The Wilds – Year One

It may look like deepest Africa with fields stretching over rolling hills and wide open plains that resemble the Serengeti, but it is in fact The Wilds of Ohio. The Wilds is a nature preserve filled with African wildlife. Every so often, this wildlife refuge was home to an off road event exclusive to those who owned a Land Rover. We brought a Jeep.  Continue reading “The Wilds – Year One”

Brie Larson, Photographer and Female Lead of Kong: Skull Island

I’m sitting here watching Kong Skull Island and I notice, as any photographer would, that actress Brie Larson really looks like she’s shooting that Leica. Sure enough she is! In fact, if you watch the film almost all of what we she her do looks great! That’s because while filming director  Jordan Vogt-Roberts had Brie Larson’s character carrying a real working Leica M3, with 35mm lens (it looked to be the 35/f3.5 Summaron we’re reviewing in a week or two!) and goggles.  Continue reading “Brie Larson, Photographer and Female Lead of Kong: Skull Island”

Nikon LTM 35/f3.5 and 28/f3.5 Review

The Nikon LTM glass, classic by any standard. But how good have they held up? This is what I set out to discover as I collected good examples of these lenses and got to work. Testing for the 35mm and 28mm was conducted on the Leica M9-Monochrome and Leica SL with Leica adaptors.  I was let down by the 50/f1.4, finding it to be very soft wide open and what’s the point in having fast glass if you can’t shoot it wide open?

Get ready, there’s a lot of images in this one!  Continue reading “Nikon LTM 35/f3.5 and 28/f3.5 Review”